Virginians react to McDonnell's plan to raise sales tax, eliminate gas tax

Northern Virginia residents are reacting to Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposed five-year, $3.1 billion transportation funding package that includes replacing the state's gasoline tax with a sales tax increase of nearly a penny on the dollar.

The Republican governor unveiled his plan Tuesday. If state lawmakers approve, Virginia would be the first state to drop its gasoline tax.

McDonnell said the gas tax is no longer a viable revenue source for maintaining and building highways because of inflation and more fuel-efficient vehicles. State officials said the purchasing power of the gasoline tax has declined by more than half since it was last increased, to 17.5 cents per gallon in 1986.

The plan would boost the state's 5 percent sales tax to 5.8 percent and dedicate additional revenue for transportation, which would also get a larger share of existing sales tax revenue.

ABC7 talked with some residents buying gas to see how much they would save. Sarah Janski would have saved about $4 with no gas tax. Nelson Telleria would have saved about $2.

"Hey that's $2 I could use for a cup of coffee," Telleria says.

And for Tom Forman, who needs all the savings he can get, it would be $5.

"You do that two to three times a week, it adds up," Forman says.

But a plan to help those who rely on four wheels could hurt some who only use two wheels. Phil Colon at Revolution Cycles in Arlington says a tax hike probably won't hurt big ticket bike sales, but may slow buying on accessories like shirts or glasses - and that's what keeps the store going, he says.

"Someone who is mindful of their budget, that isn't gonna buy all these smaller accessories, it really hurts us as a small business," Colon says.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.